This executive conversation with Simon Farthing, senior services and strategy director at Monetate, originally ran in Internet Retailer’s July Online Personalization in eCommerce report.

Delivering personalized experiences can have a direct impact on a retailer’s bottom line, especially when personalization is part of a holistic customer experience strategy. A recent Monetate report found that the value of personalization compounds with every experience, proving one-off tactics are not as powerful as a personalized journey. To discuss best practices in personalization, Internet Retailer spoke with Simon Farthing, senior services and strategy director at Monetate, a personalization platform.

What are some notable trends around ecommerce personalization?

Simon Farthing: Retailers are getting better at unlocking exponentially more value from their personalization efforts. Personalization is no longer just a tactical solution to optimize a single session and a single metric; it’s maturing into a strategic tool to improve customer lifetime value and loyalty.

What do retailers need to know when first taking on personalization?

SF: Retailers need to understand customer intent, filter out the noise and respond in real time. It’s access to data—both internal and external systems — that enables real-time delivery and gives retailers the strongest results. That’s why artificial intelligence (AI) is extremely valuable in our space. You might have 100 pieces of valuable information about a customer, but a human can’t analyze all of it to make the right decision about what that data really means.

What attributes make up a successful personalization strategy?

SF: It’s absolutely critical to understand who owns personalization within an organization and how all stakeholders will contribute to the program. Retailers need governance that breaks down silos, clearly defined objectives, and a tactical roadmap that includes measurement strategies.  

What challenges are retailers facing in this area?

SF: The quest for perfection vs. the need to deliver results today. Many retailers are investing in personalization to fill a mix of short- and long-term objectives. It can be hard to find a balance when the pressure’s on to hit weekly sales targets. The good news is there are many best practices retailers can implement to achieve immediate success, while still building toward that holy grail of programmatic one-to-one personalization. 

What should retailers do now to improve their approach to personalization?

SF: There’s a huge competitive advantage to retailers with comprehensive personalization programs. Encouraging teams to focus beyond short-term optimizations, while still embracing simple tactics and quick wins, will have a significant impact on metrics. Just ensure you have a clear view of the revenue impact of your personalization program; that’s the only way to resource properly and demonstrate value. 

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